The Romanov Sisters

The Romanov Sisters

The Lost Lives of the Daughters of Nicholas and Alexandra

Book - 2014
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"They were the Princess Dianas of their day--perhaps the most photographed and talked about young royals of the early twentieth century. The four captivating Russian Grand Duchesses--Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia Romanov--were much admired for theirhappy dispositions, their looks, the clothes they wore and their privileged lifestyle. Over the years, the story of the four Romanov sisters and their tragic end in a basement at Ekaterinburg in 1918 has clouded our view of them, leading to a mass of sentimental and idealized hagiography. With this treasure trove of diaries and letters from the grand duchesses to their friends and family, we learn that they were intelligent, sensitive and perceptive witnesses to the dark turmoil within their immediate family and the ominous approach of the Russian Revolution, the nightmare that would sweep their world away, and them along with it. The Romanov Sisters sets out to capture the joy as well as the insecurities and poignancy of those young lives against the backdrop of the dying days of late Imperial Russia, World War I and the Russian Revolution. Rappaort aims to present a new and challenging take on the story, drawing extensively on previously unseen or unpublished letters, diaries and archival sources, as well as private collections. It is a book that will surprise people, even aficionados"--
Publisher: New York : St. Martin's Press, 2014.
Edition: First U.S. edition.
ISBN: 9781250020208
Characteristics: xviii, 492 pages :,illustrations ;,25 cm


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Apr 04, 2019

This book is entirely transfixing. It's the story of tragedy after tragedy that befell the Romanovs- from the death of Alexandra's sister at such a young age, to the miscarriage Alexandra had between Anastasia and Alexey, to the brutal murders of the entire family in 1918. This story is fascinating and expertly told. I have read it at least a dozen times and want to read it again. I will never grow tired of it.

Apr 13, 2017

Rappaport certainly has done a tremendous amount of research to write this book as shown by her long bibliography and many unobtrusive footnotes. It would be interesting to also read those eye-witness accounts from close Romanov household staff published in the 1920's that Rappaport lists among the books she used to write her biography of the 4 Grand Duchesses. Rappaport has a sympathetic view towards the girls who often are nursemaids to their mother and brother and, later, to wounded soldiers. Rappaport describes the lives of each of the girls from their birth to their death, giving information about their personalities, their daily routines, their past times/entertainment, their abilities, education, clothes, etc. I was astonished to read that later educators thought the children had not had a good education as their knowledge was so limited. I enjoyed reading about their crushes on the young officers protecting them and the advances of princes for their hands in marriage. I was also astonished to read how easily the girls adapted to the different living situations in their last year, accepting their confinement as fate. Their mother comes across as an invalid after the birth of her son, her duty of child bearing finally being finished. I ended up not liking their mother with her various unattractive personality traits, her control of the family, and her strong belief in the Romanov's family's right to rule. However, Rappaport successfully portrays a tight knit loving family picture, each relying on the other for company. It seems most unfortunate that the family couldn't escape those terrible times.

Dec 17, 2016

Very compelling and easy to comprehend. Yet I personally found myself being uploaded with so much rich information in every page that I could only read half a chapter a day, if that! A good chunk of the book is dedicated to footnotes and a glossary of names, which unlike the narrative itself, was hard to follow.

Oct 07, 2015

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and I read through it quickly. Not only is the book well researched, but it also flows well. After finishing this, it has motivated me to read more about the family and the time period. I wish there was a map included (but I just used Google instead). I thought this was an absolutely fascinating read, and is now one of my favorite books. I'm on to checking out Rappaport's other book on their last days alive.

multcolib_susannel Jan 31, 2015

Realistic, interesting, empathetic portrait of Tsar Nicholas II and his family. Focusing on the 4 sisters, it uses diaries, letters and personal accounts to present a picture of their lives.

Nov 28, 2014

A very detailed and moving account. Since it doesn't include much political context, I would recommend it to those who've already read "Nicholas and Alexandra" or other works that supply such material, to better understand why the Russian royal family ended up as they did.

Nov 07, 2014

The four Imperial sisters, due to their isolated lives - more on that later - have not had bio of their own, and while this ambitous book is well-written, much of the information is not new, or really discovered. Ever since 1918, the last Tsar and his family have had their rooms opened, examined and even ciritcized. Rappaport could have written a much shorter work - a book of photos (taken from their private albums) and short categories might have made a stronger book than this one, which is often padded, to use an adacemic critque.

The Empress Alexandra had a rough time when she first came to Petersburg to visit her sister Ella, who married the Grand Duke Serge. Society made fun of her clothes, her French accent, her schoolgirl blush, and she was determined that her daughters be devout Orthodox Russians, bereft of the often debauched tastes of the Petersburg haute monde. And, combined with the secrecy of the Tsarevich's hemophilia, they led a fairly cloistered life, with the exception of when their Aunt Olga took them to Petersbugh and a formal lunch with thier paternal grandmother on Sundays.

One important fact that the author neglects is that the Empress, despite her German birth, was the daughter and grand daughter of Engish royalty and her tastes in morals, decor, and child rearing were essentially English. Thus the cold baths, the simple bedroooms, and the porridge for breakfast. And, all of the rooms were similar to the ones at Windsor: chintz, high wainscoating, and glass-fronted bookshelves, all very cozy and very un-Russiain. These cluttered rooms were a reflection of simple values, not a repository for antiques, and the sentiment behind the contents reflect an Edwardian, or at best late Victorian taste. And, the store that Alexandra bought her furniture from - Maples - is still around, selling to solid middle-class tastes, like those of her mother Princess Alice and her grandmother, Victoria. Rappaport never discusses this, oddly enough.

The personalities of the girls are still more sketches than anyting due to the above factors. So, attempts to give them a "biography" are thin, we have only outlines, glimpsed through the eyes of emigres and courtiers. Most of their royal relatives hadn't seen much of them since the visit to Cowes, or the wedding of the Kaiser's daughter. And, many could not probably tell them apart from each other.

If you have never read Nicholas and Alexandra or some of the other books on the family, then this is all new, otherwise, take a look at that book, and the wonderful photo book, "Tsar,"

Oct 22, 2014

A well-researched and fascinating look at the four young Romanov Grand Duchesses who lost their lives during the Russian Revolution. Rappaport brings them alive as distinct and sympathetic characters.

Oct 22, 2014

The author has completed incredibly detailed research using documents, letters and photos from the era and writes a very even-handed history. She doesn't paint the Romanov parents or their children as saints or sinners, but as fallible human beings caught up in a storm they couldn't fathom, under circumstances they were helpless to change. Such a sad situation on many counts, but an excellent book.

wilbraham Sep 08, 2014

All interested in the history of the last months of the Russian Empire in 1917-1918 can only admire Helen Rappaport’s books, the most recent being The Romanov Sisters. The book is dedicated to the “memory of four extraordinary young women”, the youngest Anastasia was 17 years old at the time of death and the oldest Olga 22. The personal lives of the four sisters are presented as a deeply moving, humane, and touching story. The four girls, growing up from childhood to young adulthood and strongly isolated from the political events that shook Russia in the early part of the 1900s and then near the end of World War I, maintained the love of their siblings, parents, their pets, and the household, where life was made to flow as normally as possible. A THOROUGHLY EXCELLENT BOOK!

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Apr 04, 2019

pink_jaguar_203 thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over


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